Over 700 Phnom Penh motorcycle taxi drivers were treated to a working lunch of bread and noodles Tuesday, compliments of the SRP, the party’s leader said.
Sam Rainsy said the party provided 500 kg of noodles and 500 sticks of bread for the moto-drivers’ lunch, during which the guests were treated to a political address in which they were promised cheaper gasoline, social security and job creation.
“We treated the moto taxi drivers as our guests,” said Sam Rainsy, adding that the bread and noodle luncheon at SRP headquarters did not constitute vote buying.
“If they had spent the time working, they would have earned more than a bowl of noodles,” he said of his guests, adding that the address was part of the party’s effort to stay close to its supporters.
Of the free lunch, he added, “It’s my job as a lawmaker.”
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that after years of criticizing the ruling party’s campaigns, the SRP was starting to adopt its own methods of buying votes.
“Sam Rainsy has accused the CPP of giving out sarongs and rice. Now he is following us. He is learning from us,” Cheam Yeap said.
But, he quipped: “It is worse. He only gave noodles.”
Cheam Yeap also said the noodle lunch was electioneering outside the 2008 campaign period.
“The NEC should take measures because the CPP has not conducted any campaigning yet,” he said. “That Sam Rainsy is stepping on his own toe,” Cheam Yeap added.
National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that parties were free to do as they wished outside the designated campaigning period immediately before elections.
“It is not the election campaign. All parties can engage in political activity,” he said.